Seniors Are Prescribed High-Risk Medications At A High Rate

The Journal of General Internal Medicine just published a study overseen by Brown researchers which found that more than 20 percent of U.S. seniors receiving medical care are prescribed high-risk medications.

The study looked at more than 6 million Medicare Advantage patients in 2009. More than 1 million of those patients received prescribed medications that are labeled “high risk,” while 5 percent received multiple high-risk prescription medications. Seniors are generally advised to avoid high-risk prescription medications and to ask for safer alternatives.

More than 100 medications are currently classified as “high-risk” for side effects when taken by seniors, while the same medications are not generally considered to have high-risk side effects for younger patients. Most notable, stated researchers, was the geographic variation found in the study: Southeastern-based patients were between 10 and 12 percent more likely to have been prescribed a high-risk medication than a patient living in the Northeast. Additionally, Caucasian seniors, female seniors and seniors who were low-income all were prescribed high-risk medications at a higher rate.

Researchers posit that many medical professionals are unaware of medications that are considered high-risk for geriatric patients.

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